The Most Serious Action Of All

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Our Christmas house guests have returned to London. They landed at Heathrow several hours ago. Fortunately, they got on the upstate New York roads and down to Newark Airport yesterday before…the snow hit:

So we’re not really going anywhere today. And we have a few days of “peace” ahead here before we too have to return to England. Time to get into some presents:

Back on Monday we headed to the small Windham cinema and saw Rogue One with one of those house guests – my youngest nephew. He’s 14 and a Star Wars fanatic. I thought it was a better film overall, in my humble opinion, than Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

On Tuesday night, eight of us sitting in front of the tele, we happened to catch Bogart in The Maltese Falcon on TCM. I told that nephew that Falcon is THE detective film of all time. Every detective film since then pretty much owes its existence to The Maltese Falcon.

The Maltese Falcon on DVD. [Photo by me, 2016.]
The Maltese Falcon on DVD. [Photo by me, 2016.]

Unsurprisingly, he’d never seen the film. Afterwards, on another channel we watched a much more recently made Marvel Captain America. I don’t recall which film it was exactly; I admit I lose track. One scene I recall saw Scarlett Johansson running around on a bridge, guns in both hands, spraying bullets at bad guys amidst bystanders’ cars crashing and bursting into flame and people running for cover.

Seeing that, Jason Bourne on the flight over here to New York last week also came to my mind. I ended up thinking about those three films in comparison to Falcon.

Falcon is from an earlier filmmaking era and was not aimed at kids. For its time, it was a relatively gritty film. And it had three murders.


Only one murder occurred on screen in the entire hour and a half – a shooting on a dark, empty side street. A second killing is repeatedly referred to, but was not actually shown. The third sees the victim after being shot, but the shooting itself is not seen on screen. And every shooter gets caught at the end and presumably faces serious prison time at least.

I couldn’t help but wonder: Do even the writers of Rogue One, Captain America, and Jason Bourne know the total number of people they actually did away with in those films? Honestly?

Given it happens in life it’s not unreasonable that killing happens in fiction too, of course. And I know comparing those sci-fi and action films to a 1940s detective film isn’t entirely fair. Yet those former two seem not just to have lots of killing, but to average about three murders “a second.”

I don’t know that I buy the argument that showing murders “realistically” also somehow makes the action more disgusting to viewers. For the body count is so vast, and the numbers butchered fly by us so quickly, we haven’t got time to internalize what just happened before ten more murders suddenly zoom by us. Are we so bombarded by murderous and sadistic – and even “cartoonish” – violence on screen now to the point of the utterly absurd?

An irony too is that so many major films nowadays seem to be produced by, directed by, and star those, who profess to despise violence and guns. Yet their films are now bloody beyond belief. And the sheer number of gun murders in them are often almost uncountable.

I have written about death previously; but sourced from personal experience. And, yes, there will be far more violence upcoming in Conventions than anything I’ve written to date – in its historical context. And there will be fictional killing in it.

But we should never allow ourselves to become blasΓ© about violence and murder. Killing someone is the most serious action anyone can ever engage in: it profoundly impacts the forever. We should not allow ourselves ever to forget that.

And we should be mindful of that reality too even in fiction.

* * *

On a decidedly lighter note, that old friend from Alaska I had posted about? He messaged me the other day. Recently he got himself Passports.

And he says he’s actually reading it. Oh, boy. Well, this may prove interesting.πŸ˜‚

A holiday *surprise* is when you awake to find a message from an old college friend in Alaska in which he tells you he has your semi-fictional first novel. πŸ“¬πŸ“•Nearly five years ago, you'd decided to write it mostly to "prove" to yourself you could write a book much as your (now deceased) novelist uncle did. In it, although you'd changed names, timescales, some locations, compressed action and various people into fewer fictional characters, etc. and so on, lots also essentially happened much as you'd written – and that college friend also *knew* several of those you'd "fictionalized." Naturally you hope he enjoys it (as of course you hope anyone does), but deep down you kinda also hope he won't like it quite enough to want to read…its first sequel.πŸ“—πŸ˜‚#Christmas #relationships #novels #holiday #books #writing #fiction #romance #memory #memoirs #university #history #students #1990s #Alaska #family #friends #friendships #stories #tales #paperbacks #LongIsland #NewYork #college #travel #expats #messenger #authors #humor #fun

A post shared by R. J. Nello (@rjnello) on

Have a Happy New Year, wherever you are in the world.πŸ˜€

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